LOAD up Toyota Australia’s website right now, and you’ll see a big banner near the top proudly proclaiming that “The wait is over” for the all-new C-HR compact SUV. However, with pent-up demand for Toyota’s long-awaited small soft-roader being mixed with a relatively small allocation of cars, the wait may be far from over for those interested in the spunky C-HR.
Toyota Australia has only managed to secure 6000 examples of the C-HR, which starts at $26,990, for local sale this year. In the context of the small SUV segment, that’s a relatively small number: minor players like the Suzuki Vitara and Holden trax managed 5713 and 7976 sales last year respectively, while the segment-leading Mazda CX-3 achieved a whopping 18,334 sales over the same period.
And while the C-HR’s entry pricing is well above those of most of its rivals – CX-3 included – Toyota Australia’s executive director of sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, told WhichCar that the bulk of shoppers in the small SUV segment were disregarding entry-level models and aiming for mid- and high-spec variants – which is where the C-HR and the flagship C-HR Koba are positioned.
Cramb also said that the C-HR had the potential to achieve sales numbers similar to the dominant CX-3, but that would entirely depend on how many cars Toyota’s Japanese production facility could send to Australia.
The C-HR is presently built in two factories, with one located in Toyota’s homeland of Japan and the other in Turkey. According to Cramb the economics of sourcing cars from Turkey would result in uncompetitive pricing for the C-HR, thus making Japan the preferred source. However, with Japanese buyers placing orders for a whopping 48,000-plus C-HRs in the car’s first month on sale, supply out of Japan is already stretched thin.
“This will be like 86,” Cramb said, referring to the sell-out situation that followed the Toyota 86 sports car’s arrival here in 2012, spurred on by that car’s unexpectedly keen pricing. Buyers queuing up for an 86 had to endure a lengthy waiting list for the most popular variants.
“That’s our single biggest concern, trying to manage the expectations of our [customers]. That’s what we’re dealing with in sales and marketing at the moment.”
“The interest that we’ve already had considering the car hadn’t actually gone on sale yet, is fantastic. We’ve definitely got more than a month’s sales already lined up.”
The situation is expected to improve for 2018, with Cramb confident that the Australian allocation would at least double to 12,000 cars. That said, production numbers for next year are still far from being locked in. The message to buyers interested in the C-HR is this: secure one now before they’re all snapped up.
For more information on Toyota’s new SUV, have a read of our Toyota C-HR price and features story.